UPDATED: The Woodlands board urges continued COVID-19 safety, announces member is symptomatic

The Woodlands Township board of directors met virtually July 22. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Woodlands Township board of directors met virtually July 22. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Woodlands Township board of directors met virtually July 22. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Editor's note: The Woodlands Township board of directors member Jason Nelson clarified in a July 24 email to Community Impact Newspaper that while some of his friends and family members were symptomatic, no one in his immediate family has tested positive for COVID-19.

"I'm not feeling well at all right now, which is why I wasn't on the Zoom Wednesday evening; and I have not filed to run for Position 2 because I am not about to go up to the township offices right now," he wrote in the email. He wrote that he and his wife had quarantined themselves three times since March to protect her health, as she is immunocompromised.

8:40 a.m. July 23

Gordy Bunch, the chair of The Woodlands Township board of directors, reviewed some recent numbers for Montgomery County hospital bed usage and recent COVID-19 case counts at the June 22 board meeting, but he also noted Director Jason Nelson was not present at the meeting because he was symptomatic for the virus.

Bunch said Nelson had family members who were reportedly infected, although Bunch did not say whether the director had been tested.

Bunch continued to encourage residents to wear masks in public and said he has recorded several public service announcements that will be released this week.

He also urged residents to be conscious of context when looking at the case count numbers and bed count usage numbers, as several factors have changed since those began to be tracked this spring.

“As of today we have 10,000 beds in use out of 19,945 available ... and in ICU bed usage we have 2,176 beds in use out of 2,239 available on a normal operating basis. Our surge capacity is 2,689,” Bunch said. “I hear the media saying we’re out of capacity and backing up the refrigerator trucks ... We are not seeing that.”

A total of 41% of the intensive care unit beds are being used by COVID-19 patients, Bunch said. He also noted the fatality rate in Montgomery County is below 1%.

‘The media are, in my opinion, are comparing data points. ... It’s an apple and an orange. In April, they only tested sick people. When you compare it to the entire population ... and don’t provide that context, it’s not surprising that you have a surprising day,” he said.

Mask wearing and hand sanitizing remain important practices, in addition to regulating group gatherings, he said.

“We need to do all the things we can to reverse the curve,” he added.

In other business at the beginning of the July 22 meeting, callers phoned in to express support for Director Shelley Sekula-Gibbs during the public comment section.

Five callers expressed disagreement with residents who called for her resignation last month. On June 24, numerous callers phoned in to call for her resignation, citing her comments June 18 in which she objected to language in a diversity proclamation. She said at that time her religious beliefs precluded her support for the words "sexual orientation and identity" in the proclamation instead of the word "sex." The callers cited freedom of speech in her defense, while the objectors said her language was discriminatory.

Sekula-Gibbs said at the end of the meeting she does not plan to resign.
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


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